26 March, 2023
Orlando Pirates Reserves claimed a 3-1 win over rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto Derby clash held at Solomon Mahlangu Stadium in KwaMhlanga on Sunday.
It’s a vital three points for the Bucs Reserves, who remain in a tight three-way race for the DStv Diski Challenge title - just two points behind the log-leading SuperSport United.
In what was a fitting closing fixture in an exciting weekend of football, it took a while for both keepers to be involved, with the two sides initially feeling their way into the contest.
Pirates shot stopper Siyabonga Dladla was spared some blushes in the ninth minute when he stepped out of his line to claim the ball from the game’s first corner and missing it completely, but Chiefs were unable to capitalise from the error, thanks to a committed defensive effort.
The Buccaneers had their first shot on target six minutes later, and it was through midfielder Ofentse Mothapo, whose effort caught a deflection on its way to Chiefs keeper Bontle Molefe, who made a comfortable save.
This was followed by an audacious attempt at goal from Relebohile Ratomo, who spotted Molefe off his line and went for goal from range, only missing the target by mere inches.
Pirates continued to probe, and were awarded a penalty in the 24th minute when Gomolemo Khoto was brought down as he cut into the box from the right-hand side of the field.
Ratomo was entrusted with spot-kick duties, and maintained a cool head in sending Molefe the wrong way to make it 1-0.
Amakhosi went in search of the equaliser and got close in the 33rd minute through Mfundo Vilakazi, whose shot from close range was blocked by Jabulani Mokone, who put his small frame on the line to keep his side in the lead.
The Buccaneers remained in front for another 10 minutes, with a penalty awarded to their rivals after Ndumiso Ngiba’s hand made contact with the ball inside the box.
The equaliser came through Donay Jansen, who made no mistake from the spot to send the two sides into the break level on the scorecard.
Ratomo was the first to get a shot at goal in the second half, going for goal directly from a free kick only to be denied by Molefe.
His effort was followed by that of Mpumelelo Ndaba, whose shot from just inside the penalty area sailed narrowly off target.
The Bucs Reserves restored their lead on the hour-mark, taking the ball from their own half deep into Chiefs territory, where Mokone’s excellent low ball across goal located Siyabonga Ndlozi, who turned the ball into the net to make it 2-1.
It appeared as if they would not have much time to enjoy being in front, with the referee pointing to the penalty spot once more after Dladla’s aggressive nudge on Vilakazi.
The diminutive Chiefs midfielder took the spot kick duties upon himself this time around, but Dladla redeemed himself spectacularly with an excellent save, diving to his right to keep out the penalty.
Amakhosi were made to rue the missed opportunity with 13 minutes remaining on the clock, with second half substitute Mohau Nkota making a fine run from the right before cutting inside and finding the top corner with a left-footed shot to extend Pirates’ lead.
Dladla was replaced by Allesandro du Plessis after injuring himself in the final 10 minutes, and the latter was called upon in the first minute of injury time as he made a fine acrobatic save to deny Vilakazi from point-blank range, preventing a tense finish to the game.
It was all the Buccaneers needed, as they held onto their 3-1 lead to complete a league double over their Soweto rivals.
Pirates Reserves XI: Dladla (Du Plessis 84’), Kabini, Ngiba, Ndlozi, Mokone, Mothapo (Matjeni 72’), Molepo, Moremi, Khoto, Ratomo, Ndaba (Nkota 72’).
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